I haven’t yet met a person that doesn’t appreciate Croatia and the wonders it has to offer. Diverse in every sense – climate, topography, grape varieties, wine styles, people – this small European country deserves as much recognition as the classic wine regions of neighboring Italy, France or Spain. When I visited the Pelješac peninsula last summer, I was amazed with the mad scientists and their wine wonders which launched them into spheres probably inconceivable ten years ago. Today, we see grapes growing on unimaginable sites, fresh styles, young mindsets and a whole lotta love for the never-ending creative realm.
Križ Grk 2015 is an unfiltered orange wine, seen immediately on the deep and hazy golden yellow color. To be concise and simple, orange wines are white wines produced using the same principles and methods as red. The skins are left on (macerated for longer periods of time), producing tannins and leaving the wine spicier and drier. The aromas of this Grk greatly remind me of IPA beer – notes of lime zest, grapefruit, rye, yeast, hazelnut and earthy mushroom. Bone-dry showing low tannins and a very nice balance of alcohol and acidity. The taste that came on so strong was that of a smoked ham sandwich – tons of charred wood, game, toast and yeast. All in all, the wine has beautiful complexity, balance and a unique style, but it lacks length and an integration of primary and secondary notes. It’s definitely not an everyday wine, but worth the shot if you’re ready to get out of your Chardonnay comfort zone.
Grape varieties: 100% Grk
Average price: 12€
GN score: 88/100
Region: Croatia – Dalmatia – Pelješac
Grk is a white grape indigenous for Croatia and is planted on small locations such as Lumbarda, Smokvica, Vis, Brač and Pelješac (all sites on the Dalmatian coast). It succeeds best on red sandy soils and gives robust, refreshing wines deep in color, high in alcohol, finished off with a slightly bitter tone. The downside of it is its rarity. If you try a wine made from Grk, consider yourself lucky, because the production is so small that it’s slurped up mostly by the locals. Yet, a few producers have tried to promote it to international markets, but succeeded only with small restaurants and import companies.
My visit to Križ last summer was like a long-awaited homecoming at which I really understood the meaning of family-owned winery. When you hang out with them for a few hours, you certainly see that Denis (the young owner) and his whole family are totally into the philosophy of this chilled organic lifestyle – record players, bicycles, local food bought from the farmers, biodynamic viticulture…They produce tiny amounts of wine and export 30% of it to the US, Hungary, Germany and Sweden. Besides Grk, Denis owns plantations of Plavac Mali and creates lighter styles of this red wine. The thing that stuck with me the most was his answer about future plans:
I plan to focus on keeping my products natural and original. In terms of quantities, we won’t grow significantly.
Two thumbs up for keeping it real to the core!
Written by Aleksandar Draganić.
I’m a WSET certified grape juice drinker, and yes, I’m that 1% of people that love their job. I drink wine, write about it, preach about it, even take pictures of it. Find me at @grapenomad